Over the recent Deepavali weekend, my parents came to visit and stay over. They came with my brother, his wife and theiry baby boy. My parents had to bring along their maid of 6 months as they did not want to leave her alone in the house - who knows what she might do?
Anway, my Mom has been regaling me with stories of how much her new maid eats. I have seen her in action, whenever I visit KL. She eats about 2 cups of raw rice a day, for lunch and dinner (wait, wait, she cooks the rice of course. Phew! Had to clarify that lest we be accused of maid abuse, given the sensitivities of the time) Maybe a bit of perspective will help here. My family consisting of myself, husband, 2 kids and our maid cook about 2 cups of rice for lunch/ dinner, and we usually don't finish the rice. There is always a bit leftover. So that's about 4 cups of rice a day for 3 adults and 2 kids, compared to my Mom's one maid who gobbles up 2 cups of rice a day.
Oh, and she loves sugar too. She eats (drinks?) 1 kilogram of sugar in about 2 weeks, give or take a couple of days. And of course chillies! My Mom lets her blend a whole kilo of dried chillies with onions, garlic and ginger to make her "sambal" which she can't live without, and she eats all of that in a matter of days. Then she complains of a stomach ache! I wonder why she gets a stomach ache, don't you? Then she has the cheek to let us know that back home in Indonesia, she doesn't get to use onions and garlic for her sambal, so it is extra delicious here! (that's why she can't help stuffing herself!)
My Mom's maid has also told my maid, "Saya mari kerja di Malaysia mesti makan banyak banyak!" (When I come to work in Malaysia, I must eat a lot!)
I asked my maid if they were short of food back home in Indonesia. My maid says no. Back home, they may not have much money, but food is abundant as they grow a lot of their own food and raise livestock. The volcanic soil ensures abundant crops and the Indonesian govt also has a food aid program that distributes rice and cooking oil to needy families every month. My maid says that while they may not eat as much meat as we do, they have plenty in terms of vegetables, potatoes, soya bean products and local fruits. So where does this gluttony come from?
My Mom's maid is obsessed with food and her weight, complaining that she has lost weight since she came here. So when they were all here, I took the maid to my bathroom and weighed her on my digital scale. The scale registered 43.3 kg. She was 41kg when she came - she's put on 2.3 kg in 6 months. Nobody can say she's not been fed well! She is also very short, well under 5 feet.
My former colleague had a maid who also ate a lot. She went through 1kg of sugar a week, mountains of rice and stole condensed milk, as she just loved to eat it. My colleague found empty cans of condensed milk under her bed.
I wonder if the contract should stipulate how much the maid should eat? It wouldn't matter, as the maids break their contract anyway. And there is nothing the Malaysian and Indonesian govts can do about it, despite their countless meetings and MOUs. The fact is, there are very few maids from Indonesia who have a sense of honour, obligation, loyalty or gratitude despite earning more money than they ever could dream of working back home in Indonesia.